Finbar's Hotel: A Novel

Finbar's Hotel: A Novel

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by Dermot Bolger

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Since the 1920s Finbar's Hotel has stood proudly on Dublin's quays, but its glory days have long since passed it by. Now it is the haunt of surreptitious priests, prostitutes, and bewildered tourists. Soon its rock-star owner will tear the building down, but not until an astonishing array of guests-a barman on the make, a paranoid art thief stalking the corridors,…  See more details below


Since the 1920s Finbar's Hotel has stood proudly on Dublin's quays, but its glory days have long since passed it by. Now it is the haunt of surreptitious priests, prostitutes, and bewildered tourists. Soon its rock-star owner will tear the building down, but not until an astonishing array of guests-a barman on the make, a paranoid art thief stalking the corridors, a grieving woman who dreams of red-haired men, a desperate, middle-aged man out for one wild night, and other habitu?s of Dublin's nightlife-pass through for one last night within its seedy walls. From room to room, and from tale to tale, we encounter the dazzling cosmos of Irish life as told by seven of Ireland's most famous storytellers: Roddy Doyle, Colm To'b'n, Jennifer Johnston, Hugo Hamilton, Anne Enright, Joseph O'Connor, and Dermot Bolger. A smash bestseller in the U.K., Finbar's Hotel is an extraordinary interwoven work of fiction, pulsating with humor and suspense.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A wonderfully eclectic cast of characters and an intriguing literary puzzle."—The Guardian (London)
“Any young Irish filmmaker worth his salt ought to be scrabbling for the rights. The reader leaves Finbar's decaying premises enthusing over the state of modern Irish writing."—The Spectator
Nancy Pearl
Here's an oh-so-clever literary idea that actually works. Take Finbar's, a once proud Dublin hotel, now long past its prime and about to be demolished by a new owner. Ask seven Irish novelists (Dermot Bolger, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O'Connor, and Colm Toibin) to contribute an unsigned chapter apiece on the guests and staff who pass through its doors one last night. The result is an interesting collection of stories about a varied group of men and women. There's the vaguely dissatisfied middle-aged man who knows that he wants something more than the ordinary life he's living as a husband and father-and hopes he can find whatever it is at Finbar's; the woman dying of cancer who skips her treatments to stay at the hotel and discovers that she does, after all have the courage to die; an international art thief afraid that the police know his whereabouts; and two sisters, uncomfortably separated by a secret too painful to share. Perhaps the strongest story in the collection is "The Night Manager." Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Johnny Farrell has spent a lifetime of service at Finbar's. Now, wanting nothing more than to retire and open a small guest house with his wife, he is drawn into the past by an unexpected hotel guest: ne'er-do-well Alfie Fitzsimons, grandson of the Finbar's founder, and brother of Johnny's childhood love, Roisin. Bolger Invites the reader to guess which author wrote which story, pretty much a losing game for American readers, since most are unlikely to have more than a passing knowledge of more that one or two of the contributors.
Katharine Weber
...[B]rings together a good deal of distinctive writing with energy and charm — and surprising harmony....The seven voices...are distinct, but the very occasional jolts...when one chapter ends...are more than offset by the sustained excellence of the writing....Finbar's Hotel is quite funny, and the authors..have clearly enjoyed themselves. —The New York Times Book Review
...[A] playful collection....Some of the rooms are more interesting than others, but each room adds a particular dimension to the collection's palpable hotel feeling.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The soon-to-be-demolished Dublin semi-landmark, the shabby Finbar's Hotel, is booked solid with seven of Ireland's most talented writers, each of whom tells a chapter of this ingeniously imagined novel. Readers familiar with the literary styles of Roddy Doyle, Colm Toibin, Jennifer Johnson, Hugo Hamilton, Joseph O'Connor, Anne Enright or Dermot Bolger will need to draw on their expertise to discern who wrote which episode, since no direct attribution is provided. Bolger (editor of The Vintage Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction) has masterminded this robust puzzle, and the hotel's very Irish atmosphere blooms with seven stories of nostalgia, humor and melancholy. There's a shaggy dog tale about a kidnapped cat in Room 103 and a hard-drinking Dublin man celebrating a mid-life crisis in 101 just across the hall from the already tense reunion of two sisters in 102. In 104 the night manager's reliving the hotel's shady history while confronting a guest who's checked in under an assumed name; and in 107 a paranoid art thief is worrying about how the woman next door might blow his hand off of a hot Rembrandt, while she in turn reminisces about her first love. One of the chief pleasures of this quirky book is encountering these characters from different perspectives as they intrude briefly into each other's stories. At its strongest points, the writers summon a deep sense of place, both historical and emotional. Not a conventional novel, clearly, yet the interlinked stories tenders more cumulative harmony than a conventional anthology; the heartening, garrulous Finbar's Hotel is a captivating place to check into. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Hotels provide a cinematic setting where lost souls can comfort one another--or cower, if need be. Finbar's Hotel, a fictitious Dublin firetrap, is no different, and seven contemporary Irish writers--Roddy Doyle (The Woman Who Walked into Doors, LJ 2/15/96) being the most recognizable to American readers--have each written a "room" anonymously. The collaboration blends humor, tragedy, and love. Readers will feel like flies on Finbar's peeling walls, seeing and hearing a little too much of the guests' lives. As editor, Bolger builds a smooth series of crises without cramping the writers' styles (and those "rooms" aren't very big). With luck, the film rights have already been sold and the director will make a better movie than Four Rooms with Finbar's three-dimensional cast of characters. Recommended for popular fiction collections.--Heather McCormack, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
Seven Irish novelists-Joseph O'Connor, Anne Enright, Colm Toíbín, Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, Hugo Hamilton, and Bolger himself-collaborate, with generally good and at times outstanding results, to tell a tale of a single night in a once-famous, soon-to-be-demolished Dublin hotel. Each of the writers here brings to life a guest who occupies a room on the first floor. Room 101 provides novel entertainment for aging Ben, who's never before been in a hotel. His walk on the wild side takes him in and out of his room, the bar, the residents' lounge, and the nightclub, until finally his intervention in a curbside domestic dispute rewards him with a bloody nose. For sisters Rose and Ivy in 102, it's a rare meeting, requested by matronly Ivy in order to persuade her London-based sibling to come home to see their mother-something Rose has refused to do since leaving home at age 17. Ken walks into 103 with a ghetto-blaster and a plot to get his revenge on the woman who jilted him. The stories from 104 and 105 are easily the most striking: the former involves the hotel manager and the history of Finbar's, which achieved its success partly through the famous discretion of the founder, the grandfather of the man in 104; the woman in 105 is dying of cancer, but by chance meets an Irish-Jewish tour guide from New York, who gives her the courage to tell her husband and children her sad secret. Peopling other tales are a woman over from America to settle her father's estate (and her memory of a teenage romance), and a burglar trying to sell a Rembrandt and other paintings that represent the heist of his life. More than a curiosity, but less than a masterwork: a collection thatholds together surprisingly well given that each story is ultimately self-contained.

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Harvest Original Series
Product dimensions:
5.35(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.71(d)

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Finbar's Hotel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago